Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever.
– 1 Chronicles 16:34
Each year I like to celebrate Thanksgiving by reviewing my blessings. This year, I have even more reason than usual for gratitude.
My husband and I survived a major scare that began in October with a trip to the emergency room. Pete’s heart had been racing 130 beats a minute for several hours, he had pneumonia, and to top it off, a CT scan showed a quarter-size mass on one lung, which the doctors seemed convinced was cancer. He was admitted to the hospital for a cardiac ablation, a PET scan, a biopsy and treatment for his pneumonia.
For two agonizing weeks, I pleaded with God. After 36 years of marriage, my husband is still at the very top of my gratitude list. He’s kind, generous, decent and caring, my best friend, the wind beneath my wings, proof positive that there are good men, and the best thing that ever happened to me. If I must be stranded on a desert island (or in my home during a months-long quarantine, which sort of feels like the same thing), I can’t think of a better person to be marooned with. I love that man to the moon and back!
Our prayers were answered. The mass on his lung turned out not to be malignant – HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!! – and the ablation procedure went without a hitch. His pneumonia is slowly healing.
Just as we were catching our breath from that crisis, we got to take another trip to the emergency room – for me this time. As I rode in the ambulance, the pain in the lower right side of my abdomen was so excruciating, I was sure I was dealing with a ruptured appendix. Luckily the problem turned out to be a kidney stone that passed while I was in the ER, and the pain dissipated as quickly as it had come on.
I’m not sure God expects us to be grateful for affliction. However, I’m certainly grateful for the people God puts in our lives to help us through the scary stuff. The friends, family members, church people and total strangers who prayed for us, along with the steady stream of calls, get well-cards, Facebook messages and even bad puns helped us more than people could possibly know!
While the pandemic continues to upend our lives in a variety of ways, I have plenty of other things to be grateful for this year as well:
My family. I have sisters and cousins who double as friends, along with wonderful nieces and nephews. Perhaps it’s our increasing awareness of life’s fragility, but we’ve all made a greater-than-usual effort to stay connected this past couple of years, even when we couldn’t get together in person.
Our kitties. My life has been graced with some fine cats, dating back to earliest childhood. Oley and Champie are cuddly, entertaining, delightfully ornery and endlessly adorable. These sweet fur babies curl up next to me while I sleep, sit in my lap while I work at my desk, comfort me when I’m distressed, and love me unconditionally.
Good friends, past and present. These irreplaceable people know my quirks and flaws and continue to stick around anyway.
Our church community. Our church has been a lifeline for us during the pandemic, with its live-streamed services and its Bible studies, book group and committee meetings all accessible via Zoom. We are especially grateful to the dedicated team of volunteers who quickly learned the technology necessary to make these virtual connections happen.
Other spiritual support. This month, Pete and I resumed our spiritual direction journey with a colleague of our beloved Sister M, who was our spiritual director prior to her death in 2020.
Zoom and FaceTime. These amazing technologies have helped us stay connected with family, friends, our church community and the rest of the outside world – even doctors – in spite of the pandemic. What a gift.
Essential workers. Thank God for the people who deliver our groceries, provide our health care and otherwise make sure we have what we need. These amazing people continuously remind me that our own ability to shelter in place and stay safe has actually been a privilege, not something to gripe about. And those essential workers – from doctors to CNAs – who helped nurse Pete back to health last month deserve a medal.
Our dream house. We have a cozy fireplace to sit next to during morning and evening meditation, a sunroom filled with plants, a large eat-in kitchen, office space for each of us, a yard filled with flower beds and a lovely neighborhood.
Financial security. A secure source of retirement income means we can afford supplemental health insurance along with our Medicare, and we don’t have to worry about how we’re going to pay all those hospital bills. Being able to hire someone to mow our grass has certainly made my life easier as well.
Mother Nature in all her majesty. No matter which season we’re in, I love the wildlife that populates our backyard – the birds, squirrels, rabbits and butterflies. This year, a real highlight was getting to host a half dozen monarch caterpillars on the milkweed I planted.
Being alive. God has granted me another year. While many folks complain about aging (and I must admit I do this myself from time to time), today I choose to be grateful I’ve been able to grow old. Especially after the adventures of the past couple of years.
For all of this, God, I thank you.
And so, I resolve to keep reminding myself each day: Today is the day our Creator has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Here’s hoping everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!